Potatoes are easily the most versatile vegetable around. Mashed, fried, baked, boiled, hashed and more. You name it, a potato can do it. So, why not skip the produce section and grow these resourceful vegetables in your own yard?
All you need is a sunny space to grow, a steady supply of water, and seed potatoes—yes, you heard that right.
You can grow potatoes from potatoes!
Take your pick from russet, yukon, fingerling, and more varieties and get your potato patch started.
Whether you need help growing or planting potatoes, keep reading for tips and tricks to help you grow potatoes.
Why Seed Potatoes?
You’ll want “official” seed potatoes– not sprouted, shriveled grocery store potatoes.
Using proper seed potatoes ensures you won’t be introducing any diseases into your garden, and you can find some pretty cool varieties that’ll grow better in your climate.
Prepare the seed potatoes
Cut the potato into several 1-in. chunks, as in the photo below. Include an “eye” on each piece. This is the growth point where the new plants emerge.
Don’t cut the pieces too big. A smaller chunk of potato encourages the plant to get busy and put down its own, strong roots, rather than live off the stored foods in the seed piece.
And don’t try to get a lot of eyes on a single piece. Each eye will produce several stems. If too many grow together, they’ll compete with each other for sun and nutrients and make a shaggy mess.
Let the pieces air-dry for at least 24 hours. This toughens the outer layer of the potato and helps it resist disease and rot.
How To Plant Potatoes
You can plant your potatoes a few weeks before your last frost date in the spring. Potatoes love to start growing in cool weather. Just make sure the soil has both thawed and dried out a bit.
Since potatoes are a root crop, plant in loose, compost-rich soil with good drainage.
A few more potato reminders:
Plant your potatoes in full sun.
133 Rule- When planting, space them at least 1 foot apart, and have your rows about 3 feet apart and 3 inches deep.
To increase each plant’s production, there is a process that can be done called “hilling.” This just means heaping dirt up around the plant as it grows. This allows more loose soil to gather around the plant and thus gives more places for baby potatoes to form.
Don’t bury the greenery with your hilling, just add a few inches of soil, straw or mulch every time the plant grows another 6 inches or so.
Once your plant is about 12 inches high, you can bet there are already some baby potatoes down in the soil. You can start harvesting then or wait until fall. If you are growing your potatoes in the ground, you can leave them in the soil until you are ready to eat them.
If you are growing potatoes for storage, leave them in the ground for a few weeks after the leaves and stems turn brown and dry. This gives them a chance to thicken their skins for better storage. You can leave them in the ground as long as you want, really, just as long as you dig them up before your first hard frost.
Do NOT wash your potatoes if you are going to store them.
For storage potatoes, harvest them on a dry day and allow them to cure them for a few days before storing in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated place.
They can last for up to 6 months in proper conditions.
And there you have it, you can grow potatoes, anywhere, in any old container, in a raised bed, in the field, or in your compost pile. If you have viable starts, soil, sun, and water, you can’t go wrong with potatoes.
You can find some great gardening tips and classes over at Craftsy.com
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